The rapidly growing wine industry in the Midwestern states has so far been more of a tourist attraction than a serious contender in the arena of fine wines, but some vintners and oenophiles believe that this year’s drought could produce more sophisticated wines.
Although the grapes are smaller this year, and some are even shriveled like raisins on the vine, the lack of water will actually concentrate the sugars and flavors in the grapes, and could produce a higher quality wine, especially for the reds.
The hot, dry conditions help red wines, but they are detrimental to the fruit and berry wines the region also produces. Nevertheless, some growers are predicting that this year’s record drought could be a taste of the new normal for the area.
“I think there is a trend I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Tony Debevc, who owns a vineyard in Ohio, told the Associated Press. “I think we will adapt. For us in the vineyard industry, it’s a good thing. A little more heat, a little more dryness. Personally, it would allow us to have much more mature fruits, certainly in the reds.”
Nearly 87 percent of the nation’s corn crop and 85 percent of the soybean crop is expected to be damaged or lost due to the “extreme drought conditions” affecting more than half of the US. The crop loss is expected to produce a rise in food prices, especially in meat and dairy because of the loss of feed crops for the animals, and in fuel prices because of the lack of corn used to produce ethanol.